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F2: Rain and red flags defined qualifying in Melbourne

Formula 2 are racing in Melbourne at the Albert Park circuit for the first time in the championship's history

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This weekend is the first time F2 race in Melbourne and it was Ayumu Iwasa that secured pole position in qualifying after a red flag-disrupted session at the Albert Park circuit.

Doohan F2 Formula 2 Melbourne Qualifying Albert Park
Jack Doohan of Invicta Virtuosi Racing topping the time sheets at his home circuit in Melbourne for F2’s Free Practice session. (Credit:

Formula 1 is racing in Melbourne this weekend and both feeder series, Formula 2 and Formula 3 are supporting F1. But for the two junior categories it is their first time racing on the streets of Melbourne.

Earlier today, the 22 Formula 2 drivers took to the Albert Park circuit for the free practice session. Home-hero Jack Doohan topped the timesheets whilst three red flags were brought out. The first was due to PHM Racing by Charouz’s Roy Nissany who spun on the entry to the final corner.

Jehan Daruvala of MP Motorsport brought out the second red flag, spinning at the same corner. However, Daruvala managed to avoid any contact with the barriers. PREMA’s Ollie Bearman then caused the third and final red flag, ending the session.

Heading into round three of the F2 season,  Ralph Boschung leads the Drivers’ Championship ahead of Théo Pourchaire in second and Ayumu Iwasa in third. For this weekend, the drivers will be using the yellow-medium tyres and red-soft tyres; the circuit should have less stress on tyre degradation but as it’s the inaugural race weekend for F2 in Melbourne, a lot is unknown.

So let’s get into what happened in Qualifying on the Albert Park Circuit.

F2 Qualifying in Melbourne

Since free practice, the weather in Melbourne turned wet and so the drivers all went out for Qualifying on full-wet tyres. Jack Doohan was the first driver out on the track, followed by his teammate Amaury Cordeel.

With the drivers getting out on the track, the spray from the rain made it very difficult to see. Doohan, over the radio, told his engineer that he had some aquaplaning. He then said:

“It is so bad.”

During the session, Doohan was setting a qualifying lap. Throughout his lap, three yellow flags were brought out but the track was clear each time. One was brought out for Arthur Leclerc who spun on the track but was able to get going.

However, before Doohan could finish his lap the red flag was brought out. Ollie Bearman was seen to crash into the barriers, losing his front wing. Hitech Pulse Eight’s Jak Crawford also lost his front wing.

Session paused with the red flag

With the red flag brought out, all the cars were in the pits. Bearman and Crawford were receiving repairs whilst the marshals were clearing the track.

The weather started to brighten up with the drivers being told that there shouldn’t be any more rain. The safety car went out on the track assessing the surface and it was then decided that the session would resume.

Qualifying restart

With 25 minutes left of Qualifying, the drivers were given the green light to start completing flying laps. The Albert Park circuit was still wet as the drivers began setting times but a street circuit in the wet doesn’t behave normally.

Doohan was the first driver to set a time in the second half of the session. The Alpine Academy driver completed purple sector after purple sector completing a time of 1:52.238. However, he was beaten by PREMA’s Frederick Vesti, who began setting purple sectors himself.

As the clock counted down, the times were getting faster. Isaak Hadjar, Enzo Fittipaldi and Vesti all went faster than Doohan, putting the Australian in fourth. In Qualifying, it soon became the game of who would be last to cross the line.

With just over 17 minutes to go, it was three F2 rookies at the top of the time sheets. Roman Stanek led the trio but the time sheets kept changing as the track evolved and a dry line slowly formed.

Throughout the session Martins was requested by race control to turn on his rain light. Other drivers, like Vesti, were soon requested to do the same. A few drivers also had moments where they ended up off track, but thankfully they all managed to carry on. But Boschung was noted for re-joining the track, however, the stewards decided no further investigation was needed.

F2 Melbourne Qualifying Red Flag Bearman Doohan Iwasa
Ollie Bearman going off the track at the final corner. (Credit: Twitter @Formula2)
Final 10 minutes of Qualifying

As the session had 10 minutes left, Daruvala and Novalak were noted for impeding. Drivers were setting more lap times but no one managed to go faster than Victor Martins, who had the top spot with a time of 1:45.736.

However, when the clock reached the final five minutes of Qualifying, it was all to play for. Zane Maloney made the biggest improvement putting his car in third.

Pourchaire, who said he has done lots of preparation for this weekend, then put his ART car on the top sport. But, Red Bull junior driver Iwasa soon beat the Frenchman taking provisional pole.

Another red flag

Just after Iwasa completed his flying lap, the red flag was brought out. Martins took a heavy hit into the barrier going into Turn Five.

With the red flag out, there was still 2:58 left on the clock. The top three at that point were Iwasa, Pourchaire and Martins. Doohan, who was looking forward to racing in front of his home crowd, was sat down in 15th.

Race control then announced that the Qualifying session will not be resumed for F2. Therefore, Iwasa took his third pole in the championship and the first F2 pole at Melbourne.

The results

The top of Qualifying for Formula 2 are:

  1. Ayumu Iwasa
  2. Théo Pourchaire
  3. Victor Martins
  4. Isaak Hadjar
  5. Zane Maloney
  6. Ollie Bearman
  7. Arthur Leclerc
  8. Kush Maini
  9. Jak Crawford
  10. Dennis Hauger

For the Sprint Race tomorrow, it will be Hauger on pole due to the reverse grid. But the question is: who will take the victory in the first ever F2 race in Melbourne?

Headline Image: Twitter @Formula2

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